Gold was discovered in the South Platte River Valley in 1858. The discovery brought national attention to the area. The promise of fortune and the Land Act of 1862 encouraged many settlers from the east to make Colorado their home instead of heading on to California. The first permanent settler in the Westminster area, Pleasant DeSpain, built his home in 1870 on 160 acres (near what is now West 76th Avenue and Lowell Street). The area became known as DeSpain Junction and began attracting other settlers including horse breeder, Edward Bruce Bowles, who was instrumental in constructing the town's train depot in 1881.

In 1891, construction began on the Westminster Castle (The Princeton of the West), which can still be seen today at West 83rd Avenue and Federal Boulevard. By 1911, the town had incorporated and was renamed one final time to Westminster, in honor of Westminster University.

The town of Westminster continued to grow and became the center for some of the largest apple and cherry orchards in the country. The orchards became a major enterprise so much that a special spur of the railroad was added to pick up the produce for delivery across the United States. The 75 acer Shaffer Orchards were operated until 1950 when they were sold to make room for the Denver-Boulder Turnpike. Madison Orchard, encompassing 725 acres of what is now Shaw Heights, was sold in 1922. Population in 1950: 1,686     Population 2014: 112,090

Major Employers: Ball Corporation, St Anthony’s North, DigitalGlobe, McKesson Technology Solutions, Trimble Navigation, Alliance Data Systems, Tri-State Generation, Kaiser Permanente, Reed Group, MTech Mechanical Technologies Group

Resources: The City of Westminster and The Westminster Historical Society

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